Judges 13:1-25

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 6, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

This week’s passage is too long to quote here, so please go read Judges 13:1-25 now. This is the passage that leads up to and includes the birth of Samson.

As is fairly typical for the book of Judges, in verse 1 we see that again Israel turned away from God and did evil. They were delivered into the hands of the Philistines, and they needed another judge to help them turn back to God. Most of the judges we’ve read about were already adults before they got called into service by God, but here we see how God called Samson to be a judge even before he was born! Samson is set apart and special from even before his conception.

Being barren and having no children was a disgrace for women in that time, so this was a huge blessing and a great ray of hope in the lives of Manoah and his wife. Finding out they were going to be parents at all was a huge deal, and especially that their son would be no ordinary person. To have this news revealed to them by an angel was also very special. This happened to Hagar (the servant who had a son, Ishmael, with Abraham) back in Genesis 16:11, and an angel would also announce to Mary that she would become pregnant (read more about that here).

The other special aspect of this soon-to-be-born child was that the angel commanded his parents that he be a Nazarite. What is that and why is it important? Read more about the Nazarite vow in last week’s post. In short, the vow of a Nazarite requires 3 things: no wine or strong drink, no cutting your hair, and no contact with anything dead. Manoah’s wife was also supposed to abide by the Nazarite rules while she was pregnant, since that way the baby growing inside her would be abiding by that vow too.

This angelic visitor only announced the upcoming child to the mother, so when she tells Manoah about it, he’s concerned it’s not authentic. For the sake of authenticity, they need to have a name of this man / angel / visitor, so the fact that a name was not given discounts it somewhat. But believing that this could be true, however, Manoah also gets a little freaked out about the responsibility of raising and parenting such a special child. He prays for a second visit from the angel, which does happen. This shows a lack of faith on Manoah’s part that he needed to confirm it with his own eyes, but that’s not unusual for us humans. Even Gideon needed more convincing, back in Judges 6:36-40.

During this second visit, Manoah tries to find out the angel’s name in verses 17-18. The angel replies that his name is “beyond understanding,” so that really didn’t help Manoah. But when they went to sacrifice the burnt offering, that’s when they got their proof - the angel goes up with the smoke! Manoah and his wife realized who had been in their presence, and Manoah thought he would surely die for seeing God, until his wife calmed his fears.

So after all of that ordeal, we see at the end of the passage that Samson is born and grows up. His name literally means “sun.”

The previous judge over Israel was Jephthah, and we can see a lot of contrast between their two stories. Remember how Jephthah was born of a prostitute and disgraced by his own family? Samson’s birth was foretold by an angel and he had godly parents who loved him. He was unique in being dedicated to God as a Nazarite for his whole life, and he even experienced the power of God’s Spirit as a young man. But upbringing isn’t everything; Jephthah turned out to be a mighty warrior for Israel, and Samson’s life becomes marked by disobedience and tragedy as we’ll see as we continue through his story in the upcoming weeks.

So what’s the moral of this story for us? The people of Israel had turned away from God (again) and needed someone to help them come back to God. God provided Samson for them as a judge, though he had to be born and grow up before he could truly accomplish this purpose in his life.. Being childless was a big problem for Manoah and his wife, and God provided a son for them. God will provide for our needs, but it will always be according to His timing and His plan. Did Israel want to be under the oppression of the Philistines for many years? Not really, even though it wasn’t as bad as the Midianites had been in Gideon’s day. But it was God’s timing to have Samson born when he was and in the way that he was, so as to fulfill God’s good purposes.

What’s going on in your life that you’d like God to take care of for you? Remember that God will always work in His timing, that doesn’t necessarily match up with ours. But if something is meant to happen in God’s plan, you can count on the fact that it will happen, exactly when and how God wants it to.

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